Article: Between Indigence, Islamophobia, and Erasure: Poor and Muslim in “War on Terror” America

Article: Khaled H. Beydoun, Between Indigence, Islamophobia, and Erasure: Poor and Muslim in “War on Terror” America, 104 Cal. L. Rev. 1463 (2016).

Nearly half of the Muslim American population is interlocked between indigence and “Islamophobia,” or anti-Muslim animus. Of the estimated eight million Muslim Americans, 45 percent of this population earns a household income less than $30,000 per year. While this statistic clashes with pervasive stereotyping of Muslim Americans as middle class, economically upwardly mobile, or opulently wealthy, it does correspond with the legal poverty line in the United States.

Since the September 11th terrorist attacks (9/11), the legal literature analyzing national security, anti-terror policies, and Muslim American civil liberties has been prolific. The emergence of “counterradicalization” policing within Muslim American communities drives this scholarly interest forward. However, since 9/11, Muslim Americans have been framed as similarly situated victims within legal literature. As a result, this body of scholarship fails to closely examine vulnerable indigent and working-class spaces where public and private Islamophobia is disproportionately unleashed. This failure compounds the injuries Muslim Americans already suffer.

This Essay intervenes to examine these liminal and overlooked spaces where indigence and Islamophobia collide. In turn, it highlights how the convergence of poverty, religious profiling and prosecution, and mounting counter radicalization policing disparately impact Muslim America’s most vulnerable demographic amid the still-escalating War on Terror.

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